Sample Integration of Gagne’s 9 Events of Instruction for Workshop

Photo of authur with stars, leaves, and vines over image.
I used Pixlr to edit and manipulate my photo.

Pixlr Tech Teaser (15 min)
This instructional sequence is based on Gagné’s (1985) nine events of instruction. The internal processes for each event are based on the work of Gagné and Driscoll (1988).

Prep: Download Pixlr software to desktop. Open picture editor. Preload folder with images for practice. Locate some great images edited with the software to illustrate as examples.

Software constraints:
• Not compatible with Mozilla Firefox; Use Google Chrome or Internet Explorer instead;
• Advance level Editor will not save as an image file. It will download as an odd file type. You’ll be able to see the icon. Simply rename it as a .jpg or .png; and
• Limited text manipulation of font. For example, you can’t make font bold or italicized. To enlarge the text,  manipulate the text box size.

1. Gain Attention: Show some amazing images that you created with Pixlr for a class. (Internal process: reception)
2. State Objective: Use Pixlr to modify or enhance images for course content to add visual imagery, cues, or a personal touch to your online courses.  (Internal process: expectancy)
3. Stimulate recall of prior learning: Ask if they have ever worked with Pixlr, Picasa, Photoshop, or Gimp? Let them share their experience with these photo editing software programs.  (Internal process: retrieval to working memory)
4. Present content: (Internal process: selective perception)
• Free photo editing software. Free mobile app, too. Show intermediate level— Open Pixlr Express (Efficient);
• No need to login. Can save image to desktop. Log in to save images in the cloud;
• The more advanced level, Open Pixlr Editor, has almost the same amount of photo editing capabilities as Adobe’s Photoshop;
• Functions include crop, re-size, fix red-eye/whiten teeth, colorization, and 600 special effects.
5. Provide learner guidance: Share handout with tips. Demo Open Pixlr express (Efficient), which is mid-level.  (Internal process: semantic encoding)
6. Elicit performance: Participants upload photo from desktop for editing at Efficient level.  (Internal process: responding)
7. Provide Feedback: Answer questions and assist participants one-on-one.  (Internal process: reinforcement)
8. Assessment: Ask some basic recall questions about software, tips, and constraints.  (Internal process: retrieval & reinforcement)
9. Enhance retention and transfer: In one word, how do you plan to use it in your class? (e.g., lessons, projects, introductions) Invite them to a workshop on emergent technology to learn more about Pixlr.  (Internal process: retrieval & generalization)

Note: For more information on Pixlr, visit my blog on the topic. For more information on Gagne’s nine events of instruction, see my blog on that topic.


Gagné, R. M. (1985). The conditions of learning. New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston.

Gagné, R. M., & Driscoll, M. P. (1988).  Essentials of learning for instruction (2nd ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Gagne’s Format for Designing Effective Training

Even after his death, Robert Mills Gagné continues to be one of the most influential contributors to instructional design.  His work with the US Army Air Corps  was instrumental in aiding the military during World War II to screen aviation recruits effectively and efficiently. This work led to the first edition of The Conditions of Learning in 1965, of which he would revise five times throughout his career. In this seminal book that combined behavioral and cognitive psychology, information processing model, and the general systems theory, Gagné provided a format for designing effective training by correlating internal cognitive processes with that of external instructional activities.  Moreover, Gagné proposed three new aspects to learning: conditions, domains, and instructional events.

His conditions of learning theory identified five major categories of learning, their correlating internal learning conditions, and nine events of instruction to address them. Gagné’s theory is based on the need to align the various types of learning with instructional events and conditions for acquisition of knowledge, skills, abilities, and other learner characteristics.  His quest was to facilitate learning by analyzing the act of learning itself. For example, Gagné developed a learning hierarchy to address complex intellectual skills, in which he proposed which events should be addressed first before proceeding to the next—a sequence of instruction. He believed that simpler tasks, prerequisite skills, should be learned before advancing to more complex ones. Through his systematic analysis of instruction, he started with the overarching aspect of learning domains.

Gagné categorized learning into five learning outcomes: verbal information, intellectual skills, cognitive strategies, motor skills, and attitudes.  Verbal information refers to data we store in our memory and recall as needed.  Intellectual skills refer to intelligence, achievement, and problem solving abilities that make us competent.  Cognitive strategies are defined as self-monitoring such as metacognition and strategizing to help us learn, think, and remember. Motor skills refer to learning capabilities that involve the mind and body. Attitudes are personal attributes and characteristics that affect how one learns, as well as their understanding of epistemology.  Clearly, each of these types of learning produce different human performance outcomes; therefore, Gagné studied the behavioral and cognitive conditions for each category that led to a learning event.

Gagné’s nine events of learning provided a process for designing instruction; one that is steeped in behavioral learning theories such as providing learners with objectives, learner expectations, cueing with a stimulus (gain attention), as well as positive reinforcement (feedback). However, it also included cognitive learning processes such as scaffolding (learning guidance), enhancing retention and transfer, and the overall fact that he was correlating internal mental processes with external learning events.  The nine events of learning are as follows: gain attention, inform learners of objectives, stimulate recall of prior learning, present the content, provide learning guidance, elicit performance, provide feedback, assess performance, and enhance retention and transfer to the task.

In conclusion,  his quest was to facilitate learning by systematically analyzing the act of learning itself. Gagné’s instructional events have been widely adopted for instructional design purposes in multiple disciplines.  For example, K-12 school systems utilize his instructional events as a framework for lesson planning and evaluation.  In addition, the military, who was first influenced by Gagné’s work during WWII, continues to utilize his conditions of learning theory to produce effective training.  Nowadays, his nine events of learning are ubiquitous in the field of instructional design.

Gagné, R. M. (1985). The conditions of learning. New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston.